George Osborne proposes two year benefits freeze to save £3bn

A future Conservative government will freeze benefits for two years to save £3bn from the welfare bill, George Osborne has announced at the Conservative Party Conference. 

The freeze would affect working-age benefits, including jobseekers' allowance, income support, tax credits, child benefit and housing benefit but would not affect pensions, disability benefits or maternity pay. The freeze would affect roughly 10 million families, of which half would be in work, reported the BBC

The Guardian commented that this move has "cemented the Conservatives’ reputation as the party willing to take tough long-term economic decisions." A joint-earning couple with one child, both earning £13,000 a year, would be £354.20 a year worse off whilst a family with one earner paid £25,000 a year and two children will lose £495 in benefits.  

However, the party argues that the losses will be offset by the rise in the tax free allowance, implying that this policy will have no effect on the 10 million due to be affected by the freeze.

Critics accused Mr Osborne of sparing pensioners because they are more likely to vote than any other age group, and his measures were disowned by the Liberal Democrats and attacked by anti-poverty groups

Speaking to The Independent, Alison Garnham, chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, said “A couple both working full time on the minimum wage are nearly a fifth short of the money they need for basics; another freeze will make it a whole lot harder for them.”